Pessimism about future ‘highest on record’

10:00 am - October 13th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    

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Britons’ pessimism about their financial prospects for the next year fell to the lowest on record in September on concern about personal debt and job security, according to a survey by YouGov.

An index of consumers’ confidence in their own finances dropped to minus 33 percent from minus 22 percent in August, the lowest since at least February 2009, the survey of 2,122 people showed.

A gauge of how respondents felt their situation had altered in the past month was unchanged at minus 24 percent, YouGov said. The survey was conducted on Sept. 10-12.

“Since the run up to the general election, people’s outlook for the future has grown increasingly negative,” Todd Davis, Financial Services Consulting Director at YouGov, said in a statement. “With more people saying their debts are increasing and savings shrinking, forecasts for an ‘L-shaped’ recovery seem more and more likely.”

… more at Bloomberg

* * * * * *

This almost certainly means consumer spending, and therefore private investment, is going to remain low and uncertain for a while yet.

And this is the time the Chancellor takes to cut deeply, thereby exacerbating the effects of the crisis.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments

If confidence is low, surely pessimism is high.

Yep, I’m afraid this article wins today’s DailyExpress award for most misleading headline… I suggest you change it, Sunny.

Btw, on a more important point: Pessimism about one’s FINANCIAL future does not equate to pessimism about one’s future full-stop. Speaking for myself, I am neither pessimistic nor optimistic about my own financial future; but I am pessimistic about my future, if we don’t change the direction of our society soon. By the time I am old, there will be food shortages and possibly even warlordism, unless we manage as a species to rein in dangerous climate change, fast.
There are much more serious threats out there than low financial consumer confidence. And it is time we got these things into comparative perspective. We badly need to think longer-term than we are used to doing.

3. Daphne Millar

On the other hand, if the headline had been right I wouldn’t have read the story because I had already seen it.
Maybe you are on to something here. Perhaps you could try headlines like ” Cameron vetoes child benefit cuts: ” I gave my word” would get me reading the story out of curiosity, even if it did turn out to be about football in Montenegro.

Hahaha, Rupert hits the nail on the head. People feel gloomy, FILM AT ELEVEN

what’s everybody objecting to? this is meaningful information about the state of the UK economy, perfectly suitable for a quick blog post.

(despite arguable headline error – pessimism is high, not low)

This hardly reflects the state of the economy. Prior to the election large numbers of workers in the bloated civil service thought that, whether or not the country could afford it, their job would be protected.

Now they don’t. Now they join the majority of workers in being unsure about their future financially. This doesn’t reflect a change in the economy, in reflects a change in the mindset of a section of it.

A better indicator of our economic health is that the credit ratings agencies didn’t drop our AAA status and have moved us off their at risk of downgrading lists. This is saving us a fortune in interest payments and keeping investors interested in our bonds.

I work at a major bank writing up the derivative agreements and know that we are doing everything can to prevent people using Spanish bonds as collateral because everyone wants rid of them. If that’s the case, it means few will want to buy new ones. Which means borrowing is becoming more difficult for Spain. We never want to be in that position. And it is the ratings agencies decision to not downgrade us that saves us from that fate. They only didn’t drop us because of the Coalitions restraining of the Labour budget (even if they haven’t actually cut the budget).

The headline has been corrected, thanks for pointing that out.

“By the time I am old, there will be food shortages and possibly even warlordism”



Mogadishu? I think we can therefore claim Rupert is accurate in his predictions…

As to the figures, I think I’ll wait till I see actual figures. Pessimism can cause reduced spending and saving, but it may also cause unusual consumer activity.



Well, I guess it depends if we mean the next 5 years or 10 or what. Olduvai theory at the moment predicts that we’ll start dying off on a massive scale within a few years because fuel will become uneconomical to find & extract. Food will become scarce here since we don’t grow enough to feed our population but rely on imports. The countries that produce our food will go back to horses & carts, and the loss of efficiency will make for much lower harvest yields. Now, if this doesn’t happen soon enough, man-made global warming will melt the polar ice caps, flooding much of the world & freeing methane clathrates into the atmosphere, hastening global warming greatly. The risk is that if we don’t run out of fuel & die before this happens, is we get a runaway global warming effect, and the planet heats to the point where all life is, well, not extinguished but burnt up. Unless you’re in your 70’s right now, this will begin to happen during your lifetime. There will be too many bodies to bury, and pestilence will set in.

How optimistic can we really be?


Well, if we hadn’t had similiar prophecies of doom since, well since someone first wrote down a religious text, then I’d be worried.

But so far I’m not that concerned – after all, we have plenty of ways to preserve food and railways and canals can carry goods in large volumes, even if they use wood (remember that – it’s a brilliant fuel) for fuel.

@Watchman – you’re talking of returning to 18th century technology to support a population of nearly 70 million. Back in the 18th century, we were hard-pressed to support a population of 15 million. You see where the death comes in?

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